Being a commercial photographer is never an easy job, especially when you’re in Alaska, which is exactly where nature and travel photography duo Matt and Agnes Hage are based. Their day job includes braving extreme temperatures, summiting snowy mountains, and crossing frozen rivers—all while carrying cameras, photo gear, and the supplies necessary to simply survive.
The Hages usually don’t complain about the harsh conditions and extra hurdles that come with finding assignments, but nevertheless, there’s no getting around the fact that Alaska is a tough spot to call home. Especially since Matt and Agnes often find themselves called upon to take on seemingly impossible assignments, including out-of-season gigs that have them scrambling to work around the weather.
Everything about the weather in Southcentral Alaska is extreme, from the 24 hour daylight of June to the four hours in December. During the summer of 2010 it rained for over 30 days and this winter we measured 1,000 inches of snow. You can’t do squat with 300 inches of rain. We get requests for backpacking shoots in April when it’s ski season, assigned outdoor portraits in November when it’s 20 degrees, and have been contacted to photograph water sports in the middle of winter. On a shoot this year, we were supposed to follow a dog musher on her 30-50 mile training runs. The client was surprised that we would need air support and couldn’t utilize the roads.
However, Matt and Agnes know how to make almost any assignment work—even with the trickiest of requests. Such as when Outdoor Life asked them to follow two brothers for 10 days during a run of their trap line across the Alaska Range.
This was a referral from another photographer in Fairbanks and I quickly learned why. The high temperature that week was 30-below zero (F) with lows below 60. Very cold. The cabins turned out to be uninsulated shacks. The supplies were not even enough to feed a single person in winter, let alone four. We began the trek with four snow mobiles pulling sleds and barely made it back to the highway with two. But the two brothers where having the time of their lives, playing out this rugged dream of how they had envisioned living in Alaska. They were pretty stoked and it showed through in the photography.
Even the most treacherous, demanding shoots have been worth it to the Hages, with much of what they’ve shot on these wild projects making it into their portfolio. Matt says, “sometimes it takes all you can give just to make the job happen. Then you sit down with the take and have that ‘oh wow’ moment.”
See more of Matt and Agnes Hage’s photos on their Instagram.